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Firefighter cancer presumption bill gains steam in Missouri

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday announced his support for a bill that would clear the way to provide workers compensation benefits for firefighters who get cancer.

H.B. 1641, introduced Monday in the Missouri House of Representatives, would establish a “presumption that a firefighter assigned to a certain number of years of hazardous duty, exposed to certain agents, and disabled as a result of cancer incurred the cancer in the course of employment as a firefighter,” according to a draft.

Rep. Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill, prefiled the bill for consideration in the 2018 legislative session; it has not been placed on the legislative calendar.

The governor’s early endorsement came with a promise to help firefighters get the medical care they need, according to a statement released by his office.

“Firefighters fight fires. And if, God forbid, they have to fight cancer, they shouldn’t have to fight bureaucrats to get the care they deserve,” Gov. Greitens said in the statement. “They should know that the people of Missouri are on their side.”

Harold Schaitberger, general president of the Washington-based International Association of Fire Fighters, was applauded the state’s efforts.

“Missouri lawmakers have a historic opportunity to protect firefighters from deadly hidden dangers, just as firefighters protect the public every day,” he said in the statement.